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Paralympic Games begin in Tokyo with celebration of diversity

The flame is lit during Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games opening ceremony in Tokyo on August 24, 2021. Photo: IOC

Tokyo, Aug 25 (MNN) The 2020 Paralympic Games were officially launched with an evocative and vibrant opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium here on Tuesday night.

Titled ‘We Have Wings’, the ceremony on Tuesday (local time) welcomed athletes from more than 160 countries to the Paralympic Games – making the Japanese city the first one to have hosted the sporting event twice.

Featuring fireworks, dancing, and singing, the emotional extravaganza saw its central character, a little one-winged plane that had given up on her dream of flying, go on a journey of discovery around the themes of spreading your wings and living life to the fullest.

Reflecting on the key themes of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, the Opening Ceremony celebrated togetherness and bringing out the best in one another.

“Paralympians! You gave your all to be here,” said IPC President Andrew Parsons. “Blood, sweat and tears.”

“Now is your moment to show the world your skill, your strength, your determination.

“If the world has ever labelled you, now is your time to be relabelled: champion, hero, friend, colleague, role model, or just human.

“You are the best of humanity and the only ones who can decide who and what you are.

“You are amazing. You choose to be the greatest in whatever the plan is.

“This is the power of sport, to transform lives and communities. Change starts with sport.”

Hashimoto Seiko, president of Tokyo 2020, offered her heartfelt gratitude to participating athletes for their hard work, dedication and perseverance in the face of the pandemic’s many challenges to gather here in Tokyo.

“Para athletes throughout the world share a true strength and determination born from confronting extraordinary and sometimes overwhelming circumstances,” she said. “For that you have my deepest respect.”

As the flag was raised by members of the Self Defense Forces, 12-year-old, vision-impaired singer-songwriter Sato Hirari delivered an emotional and heart-rending performance of the national anthem Kimi Ga Yo.

The number of athletes slated to take part in Tokyo 2020 Paralympics – 4,403 – is a record. It includes a 1,853 women, and 254 athletes from the host nation Japan.

As the competitions begin on Wednesday, India’s para table tennis players Sonal Patel and Bhavina Patel will play in preliminary rounds of their respective categories. In women’s singles Class 3 – Group D, Sonal will take on China’s Li Qian. Bhavina will play in women’s singles Class 4 Group A against Chinese Zhou Ying, who is world number 2 in this class.

India has sent its biggest-ever Paralympic contingent of 54. The para-athletes will compete in as 9 sports over 12 days from August 25 to September 5.


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